MANILA - Two senators on Tuesday pushed for legislative inquiries on the government's programs for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who returned to the Philippines due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. filed Senate Resolution No. 448 to "address loopholes" in the repatriation process of stranded OFWs since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
"There is a pressing need to accelerate and expedite the repatriation process and maximize all available resources and systems to bring home all the stranded OFWs abroad," he said.
"The repatriation process must be systematic and holistic that it will bring the OFWs right in front of the doorsteps of their homes without undue delay and unnecessary difficulties," he said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros filed a separate resolution urging the Senate to look into the government's plans on how returning migrant workers would be reintegrated to communities.
Financial aid programs, mental health and psycho-social services, and medical assistance in relation to COVID-19, including mandatory testing, should be provided for OFWs, Hontiveros said in Senate Resolution No. 445.
"Hindi lang ang mas mabilis na testing at mas maayos na biyahe pauwi ang dapat siguraduhin ng pamahalaan para sa ating OFWs," she said.
(The government should not just provide quick mass testing and comfortable flights for OFWs.)
"Dapat may long-term assistance din sa kanilang kabuhayan at kalusugan ngayong marami ang matagal pa o hindi na makakabalik sa kanilang trabaho abroad," she said.
(The government should also provide long-term assistance for their livelihood and health, especially when it would take a while before a lot of OFWs can resume work abroad.)
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier said at least 341,000 OFWs lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The Department of the Interior and Local Government said around 300,000 are expected to be repatriated this year.
Some repatriates experienced delays in going to their hometowns, kept in quarantine in government facilities in Metro Manila because of the slow processing of their COVID-19 test results.